epitalon peptide for brain health

Epitalon peptide for brain health and Alzheimer’s prevention

Epitalon has received a lot of attention in the scientific circles for its ability to delay premature cellular aging, regulate melatonin secretion as well as protect against age-associated progressive diseases.

But what exactly is Epitalon? It is a synthetic version of the epithalamin, a peptide naturally secreted by your pineal gland. The pineal gland is a tiny pea-sized endocrine gland located in the centre of the brain. Its main function is to make melatonin – a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle and the workings of the reproductive hormones.

In this post we are going to discuss the role of Epitalon in brain health and in preventing neuro-degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.

Epitalon and brain health

The role of Epitalon in regulating how we age and consequently in delaying the onset of age-related deterioration in brain functions comes from its ability to activate telomerase [1].

Epitalon also influences melatonin secretion, another property where it helps brain health in several ways, as we are going to see in a little bit.

Epitalon activates telomerase

Epitalon helps the body to produce telomerase, an enzyme that protects and adds length to the telomeres. Telomeres, on the other hand, are protective caps at the end of our DNA strands. They are made of repetitive stretches of DNA and help:

  • Keep the chromosome ends from fusing together and unravelling, similar to the role of the plastic tips (aglets) on shoelaces.
  • Protect DNA from degradation during cell division

Cell division is a complicated process. So, without getting into too much detail, it’s good to know that each time a cell divides, telomeres lose bases from its DNA and get shorter. If not for telomeres, the actual DNA strand would lose its bases, leading to the loss of genetic information. In simple words, telomeres allow the cells to divide without losing their vital genetic blueprint.

Telomeres continue getting shorter until they become too short, preventing the cell to divide any further. This causes the cells to age, malfunction or die – leading to physiological changes in the body often associated with ageing. So, basically the length of a telomere determines how many more times a cell can divide.

While telomeres shorten naturally with age, many other factors can also accelerate this process such as stress, inflammation, smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and obesity. As telomeres shorten, whether due to age or these factors, your risk of premature ageing and the onset of age-related diseases increases. In fact, telomere shortening is one of the leading theories of how we age.

Studies show the length of telomeres could be a predictor of age-related, progressive disorders and even early death. Diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease have often been linked with short telomeres.

Specific to neuro-degeneration, a 2015 meta-analysis showed: “consistent evidence of shorter telomeres in AD patients, highlighting the importance of the analysis of epigenomic markers associated with neurodegeneration and with the risk for common and severe neurological diseases, such as AD.” [2]

The good news is your body naturally produces an enzyme called telomerase that nourishes as well as adds DNA sequence to the telomeres [3]. So, what this enzyme basically does is protects telomeres from degradation, rejuvenates them and slows down or even partially reverses their shortening by adding some more length (bases). As we know, telomeric length is closely associated with longevity, and a disease-free healthy life. The bad news is the natural production of telomerase declines with age.

It is now time to bring back epitalon to the story, and we have a very good reason to do so. Epitalon activates the production of telomerase, and this helps in telomere strengthening and elongation. This translates into staving off premature cellular ageing and delaying the development of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. (On that note, things like reducing stress, mediation, eating a healthy, nutritious diet, exercise and losing weight also help you restore healthy telomere length.)

Epitalon regulates melatonin secretion

Studies show that epitalon stimulates melatonin secretion and improves the circadian rhythm. [4] [5]

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. While it is mostly known for its role in regulating the body’s internal biological clock and sleep-wake cycles, it is also involved in the healthy functioning of the endocrine, nervous and immune systems.
Emerging studies tell us that melatonin is remarkable in its ability to fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, i.e. it works as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory extraordinaire. Some of the mechanisms by which it protects against free-radicals include [6]:

  1. Direct scavenging of free radicals (both reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species) and their by-products
  2. Activating antioxidant enzymes
  3. Decreasing the activation of enzymes that promote oxidative stress

In its capacity as such a powerful anti-oxidant, melatonin helps in fighting all sorts of diseases associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, and that includes neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Melatonin also protects mitochondria from oxidative damage and increases glutathione levels in mitochondria, which is important as many neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s show failing mitochondrial functions as their trademark characteristic.

Studies have also shown that melatonin may:

  • Improve sleep patterns and reduce the symptoms of sundowning (worsening of confusion, anxiety, sleep disturbances in late afternoon and evening) in patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. [7] [8]
  • Protects against beta amyloid plaque, one of the known underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

The production of melatonin reduces with age and this has been considered as one of the primary factors involved in the onset of age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Elaborating on its anti-oxidant benefits, this 2013 study reports:

Therapeutic trials with melatonin indicate that it has a potential therapeutic value as a neuroprotective drug in treatment of AD, ALS, and HD. In the case of other neurological conditions, like PD, the evidence is less compelling. Melatonin’s efficacy in combating free radical damage in the brain suggests that it can be a valuable therapeutic agent in the treatment of cerebral edema following traumatic brain injury or stroke.” [9]

References:

  1. Khavinson et al. Epithalon peptide induces telomerase activity and telomere elongation in human somatic cells. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2003
  2. Forero et al. Meta-analysis of Telomere Length in Alzheimer’s Disease. The Gerontological Society of America. 2016.
  3. Elissa Epel, Jennifer Daubenmier, Judith T. Moskowitz, Susan Folkman and Elizabeth Blackburn. Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Aug; 1172: 34–53.
  4. Korkushko et al. Normalizing effect of the pineal gland peptides on the daily melatonin rhythm in old monkeys and elderly people. Adv Gerontol. 2007
  5. Khavinson et al. Synthetic tetrapeptide epitalon restores disturbed neuroendocrine regulation in senescent monkeys. Neuroendocrinology Letters 2001.
  6. Reiter et al. Melatonin as an antioxidant: under promises but over delivers. J Pineal Res. 2016
  7. Cardinali et al. The use of melatonin in Alzheimer’s disease. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2002.
  8. Asayama et al. Double blind study of melatonin effects on the sleep-wake rhythm, cognitive and non-cognitive functions in Alzheimer type dementia. J Nippon Med Sch 2003.
  9. Pandi-Perumal et al. Melatonin antioxidative defense: therapeutical implications for aging and neurodegenerative processes. Neurotox Res. 2013